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What if You Die Intestate?

Old couple having coffeeIf your parents don’t have wills, how do you convince them that they need them?

Education is key, says NJ 101.5 in “Talking to your parents about a will.” Some parents fail to realize the consequences of not having a will—like if you don’t have a will, you lose the right to choose who will serve as executor (the person in charge of the estate).

In the absence of a will, the “administrator” appointed by the court needs to be bonded, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. With a will, you can have a clause that waives the bond requirement. One great reason for Mom and Dad to have a will right there!

A place for information on this topic is your area’s probate court, typically located in the county seat. Plus, many good introductory brochures can be found online on their website. This information might be enough to convince your parents how important it is to have wills.

Another possible concern with some parents is that of keeping their personal and financial matters private. If so, they can create trusts to dispose of their assets. Remember that a will is a public document. While most wills don’t have specific asset information, the will itself is open to the public, and anyone can obtain a copy. A trust is always private unless there is a court action involving the trust. The trust agreement isn’t automatically a public record, even in that case.

If your parents create a trust with the help of a qualified trust attorney, and they transfer their assets to a trust during their lifetime, the trust controls what happens to those assets upon their incapacity and death.

These are some good options to discuss with Mom and Dad. No matter what they decide, it’s better to have a plan in place. Otherwise, ignoring these issues may mean costly and stressful family disputes, which can be avoided with proper planning.

Reference: NJ 101.5 (November 1, 2016) “Talking to your parents about a will”

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